A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Trigger Warnings: It’s About Empathy and Choice

Trigger warning for multiple topics*.
EMPATHYsmI am super irritated that I have to write this. That I feel like I have to write it today, right now, because not only did a concern-trolling article come out in the New Republic a couple of days ago, but people were already complaining about trigger warnings as though they were some kind of censorship (some even using the word). As though the people using or benefiting from them were proposing banning words or ideas. As though we want our world scrubbed clean of all references to traumatic topics. This is not remotely the case, and I feel the need to clarify for anyone who’s listening and isn’t sure they get it. 

What’s a trigger warning? The top Urban Dictionary entry does a fairly good job of defining them:

Used to alert people when an internet post, book, article, picture, video, audio clip, or some other media could potentially cause extremely negative reactions (such as post-traumatic flashbacks or self-harm) due to its content. Sometimes abbreviated as “TW.”

Trigger Warning for sexual violence

The New Republic article adopts a slippery-slope argument, pointing out among other things that UC Santa Barbara’s Associated Student Senate has passed a proposal, now presumably before university officials, recommending required warnings before graphic material. The author doesn’t seem curious about how this might help people. In fact she states quite plainly that it doesn’t:

As a means of navigating the Internet, or setting the tone for academic discussion, the trigger warning is unhelpful. … There is no rational basis for applying warnings because there is no objective measure of words’ potential harm.Of course, words can inspire intense reactions, but they have no intrinsic danger. Two people who have endured similarly painful experiences, from rape to war, can read the same material and respond in wholly different ways.

This tells me that the author a) has missed the point entirely and b) didn’t bother to speak to anyone who uses or benefits from trigger warnings (she certainly doesn’t quote any). If she had spoken to some of us, she might understand that trigger warnings are actually very helpful to trauma survivors. They allow us to choose when and how we engage with content so we can do so in a way that results in less harm. It doesn’t mean we won’t view the content. It just means we have a choice—that it doesn’t hit us like a slap in the face and possibly to our great detriment. But people who pooh-pooh trigger warnings often (though not always if they take the time to listen) seem unconcerned with the everyday battles survivors face on the Internet. In fact, like the author of the NS article (quoted again below), some are now wringing their hands over how this practice is apparently harming us as a society and will lead to trigger warnings on cereal boxes and shit:

What began as a way of moderating Internet forums for the vulnerable and mentally ill now threatens to define public discussion both online and off. The trigger warning signals … a wider cultural hypersensitivity to harm and a paranoia about giving offense. And yet, for all the debate about the warnings on campuses and on the Internet, few are grappling with the ramifications for society as a whole.

… it’s only a matter of time before warnings are demanded for other grade levels … it’s not inconceivable that they’ll appear at the beginning of film screenings and at the entrance to art exhibits. Will newspapers start applying warnings to articles about rape, murder, and war? Could they even become a regular feature of speech? “I was walking down Main Street last night when—trigger warning—I saw an elderly woman get mugged.”

Trigger warnings aren’t about not giving offense. They’re about taking the time to consider how material might affect survivors of trauma (empathy) and allowing them to a) brace themselves emotionally for the material or b) skip it entirely (choice). They serve as a helpful guide for people who might want or need to prepare for—or choose not to experience—content that might trigger reactions that they aren’t ready to deal with right now—reactions that can range from mild discomfort (which is what most people who have a problem with TWs seem to assume we’re talking about) to outright panic to self-harm. In an age when most of us are suffering from information overload, it’s about giving people more awareness of possible emotional landmines so they can make informed choices as they navigate their day. Believe me, we’re going to encounter plenty difficult material without the benefit of a trigger warning. We’re not living in a sterilized environment. But we do appreciate a heads-up when something might reopen our wounds. To me, it doesn’t seem like much to ask, and it doesn’t cost me anything to include trigger warnings on my content.

As yet, no one is obligated to provide trigger warnings. It’s something we do out of consideration for those who might appreciate and benefit from it. A simple [TW] before a tweet about a difficult topic gives readers a chance to steel their gut or skip it if they don’t feel like dealing with hard stuff just now. Ever read or watched something that made you cry at work? If so, you might know the feeling of wishing you’d waited until later. Have you ever said something insensitive in front of someone who was hurt by your words and wished you hadn’t opened your mouth? Would you knowingly walk through the world causing people to feel either of those ways…or much worse?

No, the world cannot and should not be free of all references to rape, abuse, domestic violence, racism, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, suicide, war…but knowing what we’re in for allows us to reduce emotional stress and strife in an environment that—for at least some of us—feels like a barrage of those things on a fairly constant basis.

It’s about self-care, and those who think trigger warnings are unnecessary or asking too much are basically saying that they don’t care whether we’re able to practice self care, or whether being blind-sided by something might cause us to engage in self-harm or flip a switch in our brains and trigger anxiety that can last for weeks (or months and require medication or even hospitalization to overcome)…this is what we’re talking about here, folks. We’re talking about caring enough about survivors of trauma that we allow them to choose. The National Institute of Health estimates that over ten million people suffer from PTSD in the United States alone. We’re talking about avoiding doing or saying something carelessly that might cause real harm to people who are already struggling every single day.

Here’s where the concern-trolling really gets going:

Issuing caution on the basis of potential harm or insult doesn’t help us negotiate our reactions; it makes our dealings with others more fraught. As Breslin pointed out, trigger warnings can have the opposite of their intended effect, luring in sensitive people (and perhaps connoisseurs of graphic content, too). More importantly, they reinforce the fear of words…

*scraaaaatch*

Go read the article if you want. I’m done.

Yes, there is a good chance that trigger warnings will rise in popularity as people become more aware of why they are a thoughtful thing to do. And people who think they’re useless will continue to wonder “What’s next? A trigger warning because you don’t like the brand of beer I drink?” And I will shake my head and wonder why it’s so difficult for them to consider the lives of others—lives which are clearly quite different from theirs when their reaction to our trauma is “This is the world. Deal with it.”

Well, this is empathy, and it’s what allows people to care for each other and not hurt each other. I recommend that everyone take a spoonful with their tea in the morning and see if your day and that of everyone you interact with doesn’t get just a bit better. At the very least, maybe you’ll cause less harm.

Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 10.58.17 AMSpeaking of lack of empathy, here’s what Dan Savage had to say about the NR article:

Any article in which I’m cited as triggering needs to have a trigger warning. Because that totally triggers me.

Way to be an insensitive fuckwad, Dan. High five.

I mean seriously: aside from some people’s snide reaction to the idea that some people need to be a bit more gentle with themselves than others, what is the problem with a warning before a particularly graphic film or tv show (many of which already feature them, and have since I was a child)? What is the cost? Do we really think this is going to lead to everyone walking around in full-body armor and darkened goggles that filter out anything objectionable? Why don’t we start by worrying about survivors and concern ourselves with the Trigger Warning Dystopia later? Because at this point it sounds to me like some people are just irritated by other people’s sensitivities, and to that I say, get out into the world and meet some people whose lives are completely different from yours. Listen to what they have to say. That’s where your full dose of understanding will come from.

I’ll close with a quote from the always-amazing Anne Theriault of The Belle Jar:

Life is an ongoing exercise in empathy. As a human being, your job should be constantly learning how to make your own way in this world while causing as little harm as possible.  Which is why I’m ultimately baffled when people wonder aloud if they’re supposed to look at everything critically and worry about its potential to harm others. Because yes. Yes, that is exactly what you are supposed to do.

tortoise

Me empathizing with a baby tortoise, in case that’s helpful.

*See how easy that was?

UPDATE: People have argued here and elsewhere that trigger warnings might be harmful to someone who really ought to face their triggers as part of recovery. This argument assumes that a) we are all in the same place in our recovery and b) we all need the same thing with regard to our recovery. It seems to me that people making this argument are telling people who appreciate trigger warnings that they (the arguers) know better what we (the triggered) need than we do. While I think these people’s intentions are in some cases good, I strongly disagree and I ask these folks to examine their own privilege in making these assumptions for others.


PSA: Trolls who comment here will be deleted and banned, so kindly piss off in advance. (Comment Policy)

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36 responses

  1. Kevin

    When ever someone writes any form of the sentence, “check your privilege”, you have ceased rational rhetoric and descended into ad hominem, where you are arguing against the person making the argument and not its substance.

    July 7, 2014 at 6:56 am

    • If you say so.

      July 7, 2014 at 10:36 am

  2. Andy

    So my issue is more with the abuse of TW. Does this become the handicapped parking permit sort of thing? There are a lot of folks who are truly “victims”, but it sometimes seems that they are usurped by those claiming victim hood as a way to avoid responsibility. So if what you want is just a black diamond at the top of the steep slope, that does in fact seem reasonable. . My fear is that the truly poor skier is now going to want those warnings on every bump on the way down, and then want them on the bunny slope. At some point the context of the information, should be warning to any aware person to proceed with caution. I was recently told I had to be gentle with the head of our machine shop. I questioned his hour estimates, and that hurt his feelings. That fellow would want TW on everything when ultimately he is really just a very childish person.

    Anyway enough of my rambling
    -Andy

    April 1, 2014 at 6:11 pm

  3. Marie

    I’m sympathetic to the idea behind trigger warnings, but I have a serious problem with them. And that’s simply this: there’s no scientific evidence that they help, and ample scientific evidence that they cause harm.

    When people are treated for anxiety and PTSD, one of the biggest features of proper, valid, scientific treatment is to guide a patient to be resilient. Because PTSD triggers can be random and unexpected, the goal isn’t to get a patient to avoid triggers, but rather to deal with them as they come.

    In the past, treatments of PTSD and anxiety that focused on keeping a “safe space” actually exacerbated the problem – it caused more harm.

    Trigger warnings, in this sense, actually make patients worse by making them less resilient and encouraging them to the “safe space” behaviors that actually cause PTSD and anxiety disorders to get worse, rather than better, as time goes on.

    I understand the desire to not cause harm. I understand the desire to not be triggered. I spent years suffering from panic attacks by trying to avoid things that caused me panic attacks. But it wasn’t until I got a good, evidence-based psychologist that I learned that trying to avoid panic attacks actually made me more prone to them. I spent years hiding from the world to avoid feeling panicked – but that alone caused so much stress that I was panicking all the time.

    Now, I walk where I want and read what I want. I’m free.

    Trigger warnings chain people to their anxiety.

    March 21, 2014 at 6:31 am

    • Marie-Claude

      Citation needed please :)

      May 18, 2014 at 10:53 am

  4. I’m going to confess to having some mixed thoughts on this topic.

    I first saw the concept of TWs introduced in a blog community where they quickly went from seeming like a compassionate idea for trauma survivors, to being a weapon used to inflict trauma. People who failed to use trigger warnings on posts touching on the usual subjects (assault, etc.) were absolutely excoriated, even if their content wasn’t particularly graphic or intense.

    It was the intensity of the censure that seemed inappropriate to me — it’s not associated with any particular experiential trauma in my case, so maybe I can’t legitimately claim that it’s triggering, but I do find intense and aggressive interpersonal conflict really upsetting. I get all stressed out and full of adrenaline. It bothers me so much that I try really hard to avoid it. It can ruin my whole day.

    But the worst thing was that eventually people started to be subjected to the same intense criticism for not including trigger warnings about topics where the “triggering” wasn’t common enough for me to think that any reasonable person could anticipate a triggering effect. I no longer remember the specific example, but let’s say that my arachnophobia was so severe, that I consider the word “spider” to be triggering. So, I tell you, “You should have put a ‘spiders’ trigger warning on that comment for the benefit of arachnophobes.” And you respond with disbelief — “Really? Seriously? Spiders?” And the community RIPS YOU APART for being an insensitive asshole.

    Eventually, the environment got so toxic that I stopped going to that blog.

    So, since then, I’ve been a bit wary of trigger warnings. I learned what they were supposed to be, and saw them go horrifically bad, at the same time. Not only were they used to create a very negative environment, but they also completely lost their usefulness in a context where anything anybody could say on any topic was considered a potential trigger.

    March 9, 2014 at 7:47 am

  5. The larger issue is how few people feel much empathy for those who don’t live in their bubble. I had never heard of TWs until I began blogging and reading blogs and used to shared a platform (True/Slant) with Susannah Breslin (have never met her or had contact with her.)

    This is also a culture — i.e. American — that places a high value on full disclosure aka telling wayyyyy too many people really private and personal shit that some of us really do NOT want to hear or see. It’s considered normal social behavior to reveal stuff that, in more private and discreet cultures, people might only tell a therapist or very close friend, but not some random stranger on a plane. That happens here. It’s very weird.

    Laugh, but if someone starts talking (as someone did in my YMCA locker room) about her cancer, I asked her, firmly and nicely, to stop. I was not kidding — in a shared public space, I am not there for that. My mother has survived 4 kinds of it and discussion of it scares me shitless. We all have fears.

    My first book, researched in 2002-3, was about women and gun use, and I heard and saw some very, very, very dark shit, visually and verbally. My choice, but it left me with secondary trauma, so that scary films and shows and anything with a lot of violence in it is just not for me.

    I don’t feel compelled to seek out TWs, but can understand people would. I especially loathe people posting color photos of their wounds and injuries (yes, really) on Facebook. WTF?! Just because you’ve had a shiny, happy life doesn’t mean the people around you have…

    March 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

  6. Reblogged this on Cupcakes And Hoodies and commented:
    I’m reblogging this as I didn’t know about trigger warnings until I started reading blogs and joining FB groups that dealt with some pretty hard topics. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t use them, if it could spare someone some pain? Rosie has done a great job explaining what they are and how to use them.

    March 6, 2014 at 10:26 am

  7. Emily Leverett

    I think this is an interesting post. I read it after reading a “trigger warnings are going overboard” article (though not the NR one you cite). I agree that in web content, even on tv trigger warnings may be appropriate (we do it in the form of “contains stuff not for kids…” and “contains material that…” Of course if Mad Men had said “this ep. has a suicide in it” on the first shot, that would have spoiled the ep for people who didn’t know and didn’t want to know until the character did it. So there is a conflict there in terms of what you give your audience. (Again, the “not appropriate for some viewers” does serve as a general warning.) But all this is reasonably fine, and empathy is good for people.

    That said, what people are talking about is NOT trigger warnings in public space. They’re talking about requiring professors to label their coursework. They’re talking about the college classroom, and that’s a way different space than the internet or tv or movies. As a prof, I always put content warnings on my syallbi and warn students verbally in class “this material contains …” And what it contains varies. Usually some sex and violence (not together) and maybe some language.

    But I do think it is the student’s responsibility to determine if they can or cannot deal with the subject matter in the course. That’s one reason why I give a syllabus. Read it. The texts on it are very easy to find, and full plot summaries are available all over the place. There are no surprises (unlike the web, where you can click on seemingly fine link and end up with pics of charred bodies or something!). You’ve got several days to find another course (perhaps even before the semester begins, because you can email me and ask for a reading list or syllabus).

    But “TW” does have the potential to lead to censorship in the college classroom. (On a related note, have you heard about the school in South Carolina? The state is threatening to take away funding if professors keep certain books on their syllabi!) Colleges are increasingly being run on a “customer service” based platform. The students are customers. This is insane. Part of college is being exposed to stuff you wouldn’t want to be exposed to. (Like, I don’t know Republican or Democratic ideas? Marxism? Feminism? History of unpleasant things? Realities of the world? Books you may never have thought to read?)

    The basic way I think about it is this: I believe in giving warnings to students and am happy to do it. I resist any kind of policy that allows the administration (rather than profs) the power to determine either what goes in my class, or how I present that information to my students (beyond noting it on the syllabi, which I’d do even if the admin didn’t ask me to).

    There’s stuff I read that triggers me, and certain classes I would never, ever take or teach because of stuff I simply do not want to encounter. Students who drop my classes for those reasons get no guff from me. Nor do I think they are weak. But I don’t think they should have the power to tell me what material is okay, or what approach is okay.

    March 6, 2014 at 9:02 am

    • I agree that if the content note appears in the syllabus, it should not be required on the actual material, but I still think it’s a good idea to provide these warnings. And I guess my question is, what if I want to take your course but I know I won’t be able to sit through a particular piece of content? Should I not take your class?

      People are talking about trigger warnings in public spaces. They are claiming that people who avoid material due to trigger warnings are not facing their issues. They are claiming that we want certain words to be taboo. This is happening.

      I don’t think any material should be censored, and I don’t think that’s what’s happening. A trigger warning is not the same as saying “this content is bad and no one should consume it.” However, I can see worrying that a mandate to ensure that the material is necessary might lead to certain materials being deemed “not necessary” and that could be a problem. But trigger warnings? Not the problem, IMO.

      March 6, 2014 at 9:25 am

  8. I understand why she is afraid of rampant political correctness-under the banner of empathy you criticize a rape victim for using her own experience the way she sees fit-and yet creating art or writing is one way that people can empower themselves (they should not have to think of everyone else’s potential reaction-that is a particularly female trap)-seems to tie in with the danger of society taking responsibility for everyone’s potential reactions-and to dismiss anyone who does not agree with you as not having had a traumatic experience or empathy really does show that it is a slippery slope-the warnings have a histrionic air about them-but then very often so does the material that follows.

    March 6, 2014 at 1:43 am

  9. Sophie

    Excellent post, (and comments) which I found by way of Sin City Siren’s re-post.
    Thank you for writing this–now Dan Savage needs to read it, and anyone associated with the NR, which basically publishes drivel for insensitive, libertarian assholes.

    March 6, 2014 at 1:06 am

  10. Sin City Siren

    Reblogged this on The Sin City Siren and commented:
    Because I can’t even pick just one part to love the most to quote and i can’t say this better than Rosie already has … THIS is the the post to read to put that whole New Republic fuckery into proper perspective. And if you need further validation for why in the world we need trigger warnings, here’s a vintage SCS post on the subject.

    March 5, 2014 at 11:40 pm

  11. I don’t understand why anyone in good conscience could object to trigger warnings. But then again, I don’t understand why people do and say a lot of the things they do. I would be willing to bet that the only people seriously in objection to them have never actually needed them, in which case what right do they have to object? If anything I would be concerned about trigger warnings becoming used too lightly, or satirically, like by becoming a meme (trigger warning: cute cats that might just cause you to explode), so that the people who really need them stop taking them seriously.

    March 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    • Yeah, they’ve definitely been trivialized a bit by people who use them in the way you describe, and that will probably keep happening as they are used more widely, but I expect them to remain useful as the people who use them like this generally spell out the “warning” pretty clearly. I think will always see a general “TW” as a warning to prepare myself for material that might be difficult.

      March 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

    • When I went to college, what pleased me most was that I finally had a context for my thoughts. I found that people who had lived before I was born had had similar experiences to mine (good, bad and complex) and had felt as I had. Finding such authors and film-makers made me feel like I was a part of the larger world. I was critical of authors who seemed detached from their material, who seemed to have nothing at stake. It follows, then, that I did not care for writing that did not struggle to say something real. The same was true for me of film and other forms of communication.

      For these reasons, I do not understand the need for ‘trigger warnings’ except in a few cases whereupon I would warn anyone: violent war scenes, graphic rape scenes, etc. But I have to say, I don’t teach works that show this type of material–except for one film about Vietnam (and I do warn students. But note that I WARN them. And I say, “This film may bother a few of you, especially if you know someone who was in that war”).

      There is a fine line between empathy and taking responsibility for others feelings and reactions. We can’t know how anyone besides ourselves will react to what we hear or see. My students are not children. I cannot effectively teach and be on the lookout for what might trigger a student–that is not my job–but it is the job of the student to know what might bother him or her and ask to talk with me about it. It is the job of counselors to treat students who suffer from any form of trauma.

      Empathy is not theoretical. Therefore, it seems odd to feel empathy for what someone might feel. There is no way I could predict this. It seems to me that the solution is for the student to approach the professor and let him or her know what kind of material is difficult. Then, there can be a discussion between the professor and student about what to expect and also what the student can do about it. But ultimately, and initially, the student must take responsibility for his or her reactions to course work.

      June 5, 2014 at 10:21 pm

  12. Jaleh D

    Personally I like knowing going into a story or article or movie or what-have-you if there’s going to be graphic violence or lewdness in it or even graphic discussion about them in it, because those things turn me off. Sometimes almost sick to my stomach off, and I haven’t even experienced those sort of situations. (Praying to God I never do) So, I can imagine just how much *more* necessary TWs are for people who’ve experienced the horribleness other people can muster so they can choose whether they can handle the content at that time, if at all. I don’t think there’s anything I’ve written or currently plan to write that might need such a warning, but I plan to use one if it comes to my attention one way or another that something does either now or in the future. I am with you on trigger warnings.

    And for a less serious note, may I say I think your picture with the tortoise is totally charming? Can I join you and let my son laugh at how silly his mom can be? I could probably get him to act like a tortoise, too, after he stopped laughing. :)

    March 5, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    • Haha, anytime! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to chime in. :)

      March 5, 2014 at 8:41 pm

  13. Empathy is the right approach and the best response. I have some PTSD from childhood events and I didn’t even know I had a trigger until it was tripped. What makes the trigger warning uniquely useful are two trends: First, linking allows us to view content without any framing context. Second, in the attempt to get clicks, linking text and headlines are more often obfuscating than they are defining. So, the risk of clicking on an “inspirational” headline and finding oneself reading a story of abuse is real and jarring, by design. Content providers should know their audience. A trigger warning is useful, considerate, and if appreciation affects views, then it could actually help raise clicks along with awareness. Trigger warnings haven’t been explicitly called out in other media, but books have jackets, movies have ratings, and newspapers (usually) provide clear headlines.

    March 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    • Excellent points. Thank you for making them. Yes, the no context thing definitely contributes to the problem, and OMG the misleading headlines these days. You never know where you’re going to end up.

      March 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    • I really like what you’ve said here. It’s a perfect example of the benefits of Trigger Warnings, as well as knowing what your personal triggers are. I also think that TW’s give us time to pause and be truly present and mindful when engaging with content. Slowing down is good practice. Thanks, Kevin! Kristi

      March 8, 2014 at 7:09 am

  14. captainjaq

    When did we, as a culture, become so myopic that the idea of seeing something from a perspective other than our own was a terrifying proposition? When did we lose our empathy and realization that our experience was not the only experience?

    As a collective, I really don’t particularly care for humanity.

    March 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    • Some days I’m right there with you.

      March 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    • You care for humanity plenty, Jaq. It’s in the collective you don’t care for.

      March 5, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      • captainjaq

        My grammar defeated my meaning :)

        March 6, 2014 at 7:32 am

  15. I had never heard about trigger warnings until I started reading your blog. As I did some more reading, and realized what they were for/how to use them, my immediate thought was: “Wow! This is amazing! This is why sometimes I get so upset about things I see, or read, or hear.” Seriously, I didn’t know why sometimes I would become anxious or upset over something when everybody else in the room was fine. I just assumed I was oversensitive, or “broken” somehow. But after being introduced to the concept of trigger warnings, and therefore triggers themselves, the world literally made more sense to me. Now I understand that sometimes, things we experience can take us back to bad places, sometimes without us even realizing it.

    Why the fuck *wouldn’t* I want to put trigger warnings on my blog posts, book reviews, and other things? It takes exactly two seconds and can possibly save someone having a panic attack, anxiety, or outright depression. I am more than happy to do that for people.

    I have absolutely zero problem with trigger warnings becoming more common, or showing up on our cereal boxes. (Though I think the chance of that happening is about the same as all of the politicians in the world suddenly becoming honest, moral human beings.) Do you have any idea how many shows,articles, movies, or even podcasts that I would be more prepared for? A perfect example is one episode in the show “Mad Men”. I think it’s the last episode of season 5. It’s a show I really like and my parents had already finished it and wanted to talk with me about certain plot points. So here I am, in bed, watching the final episode before I go to sleep. And right at the end, one of the characters I really love commits suicide. I was a fucking wreck. It was awful. That entire episode brought back all the pain and loneliness of my own experiences with suicide and my first thought was: “Why the fuck didn’t the creators put a damn trigger warning in the intro?”

    In the morning, I talked with my mom about it, and asked her to please warn me in the future if a show was going to deal with suicide like that. She said it had never even occurred to her, though she saw my point immediately and promised to keep it in mind. If trigger warnings were more common, and if it had been an idea she was exposed to, then we probably wouldn’t have needed to discuss it at all, and I would’ve known right then that the episode was something I shouldn’t watch when I was tired and unable to cope as well as I normally am.

    tl;dr Panicky, doomsday clickbait nonsense like that article is incredibly stupid and short-sighted. I hope that the author and the people who agree with her learn what empathy truly means someday.

    March 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    • Once when a friend told me she thought trigger warnings were kind of ridiculous, I told her that I never knew what that reaction was that I had to rape scenes where I had to leave the room and plug my ears and rock for a while until I learned about triggers by way of understanding trigger warnings.

      This article states that by using trigger warnings, we’re preventing people from facing their triggers. My question is, why is it not up to the individual when or whether they face said triggers? Why is it up to you?

      March 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      • Isn’t it funny, how it’s always the people who’ve rarely had to deal with serious trauma who always have a strong opinion on how the rest of us are supposed to get on with our lives? Sort of like, who died and made them Keeper of the Magical Coping Timetable?

        March 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        • Word.

          March 5, 2014 at 1:15 pm

        • Someone once pointed me to a female comedian who had made a rape joke and then explained that she had been raped and humor was how she dealt with it. She went on to say it was that or be a victim all her life. Yeah, no. We all cope in different ways and nobody gets to tell me “it’s this or be a victim all your life.” Nobody.

          March 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

          • Hear, hear. To me, that’s no better than people saying to me, “Well I was depressed once, then I did X and you should too otherwise you’ll be depressed forever! Because you WANT to be!” Or people like my dad, who assume I talk about feminism and sexism as some sort of way to gain power, instead of as a way to figure out who I am and what I value. (And why) It’s bizarre, and annoying as hell.

            March 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm

  16. Warning people about the contents of their program is only good common sense. I’d love to be able to call Dan Savage an arrogant asshole, but my being a st8 man would make me appear to be a homophobe. But I’m happy you did Rosie.

    March 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    • Thanks, gram. I used to like him a lot, but he is pretty arrogant and he’s not a very good ally in a lot of cases.

      March 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm

  17. “The National Institute of Health estimates that over ten million people suffer from PTSD in the United States alone.”

    And that’s just people diagnosed with PTSD. Many, many more people who don’t qualify for an official diagnosis still suffer the effects of trauma.

    March 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    • Absolutely. And most of us reach an International audience on blogs and social media. Imagine what that number is if you include everyone.

      March 5, 2014 at 12:38 pm

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